Volunteered at the food bank. A group of high schoolers was volunteering there as well—a common enough occurrence, as community service hours are nowadays a requirement for graduation at many high schools. One of them came up to me, however, and asked if we had volunteered together before. It was possible. I didn't recognize him, but, then again, I've never been good with faces.
"I'm here pretty often," I said.
"No," he said, "I've never been here. It was at a food packing event at Del Norte."
I was stunned. I still couldn't remember the kid, but I definitely remembered that event at Del Norte High School. But that had been three years ago! And I had only been there an hour, during which I couldn't have said more than two sentences to any of the people I had been working next to.
It was one of those moments that made me pause and reflect. What was my life three years ago? And what is it now? And I remembered that the only reason I had even been there that day at Del Norte was because I had wanted to spend time with this girl who had invited me to come along with her. Irony of ironies, she had ended up having to call me ten minutes into the event to let me know that she wasn't going to be able to make it, and that disappointment had been my primary takeaway from the experience.
Running into this kid three years later put things into perspective. It was like uncovering camcorder footage of myself that I didn't know existed, and, on the one hand, the footage didn't tell the story of what was going on inside, yet, on the other hand, it offered a larger perspective of what was going on outside, which I had been oblivious to in the moment. I had never even really considered that there were other things going on that day. It had been a day in my life, but now it occurred to me that it had been a day in everyone else's life too. It had meant one thing to me, and different things to other people. And, amazingly, there was even at least one person whose memory of that day included me.